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Project Syndicate: China’s Risky Reforms

Authors: Ian Bremmer, and David Gordon
February 14, 2014

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"For outsiders, the reform process also poses risks that extend well beyond the global economic fallout of a sharp Chinese slowdown. The country's neighbors, particularly Japan, have the most to fear. If reforms become broadly unpopular or expose dangerous divisions within the leadership, the government will have good reason to divert public attention from controversies at home by picking fights abroad."

NEW YORK – When it comes to economic reform, China's leaders no longer believe that time is on their side. With a new sense of urgency, President Xi Jinping and his inner circle are attempting one of the most ambitious economic and social-policy reform plans in history.

But in any authoritarian country, change creates risk. Consider the scale of the proposed plans. For China to reach the next stage of its development, a much larger share of Chinese-made products now destined for Europe, America, and Japan must be sold to consumers inside China. This shift will require a big increase in local purchasing power – and, therefore, an enormous transfer of wealth from large domestic companies to Chinese households.

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